Archive for the ‘red flags’ tag
A fake opinion piece published under the domain opinion-nytimes.com was shared on Twitter by New York Times lead tech reporter Nick Bilton.
The tweet, which was first sent last night, has since been deleted by Bilton, but the culprit was at least successful in fooling a big mark into giving it legitimacy (not to mention lots of additional retweets).
The fake op-ed piece was intended to be a sequel to a February article by former NYT Executive Editor Bill Keller titled “Wikileaks, A Postscript.” The fake piece is also terribly written and anyone who reads Keller on a semi-regular basis should be able to tell its not up to par. It’s obviously written by another author. Keller has also publicly acknowledged the fake piece on his own Twitter account. If that wasn’t enough to send off red flags, there’s also the absent NYT favicon next to the URL.
Whoever is responsible for the fake article has been planning it for a while, as Twitter user Christopher Soghoian points out. The domain it used was registered March 30 under French registrar Gandi.
Bilton has also released the following screenshot and explanation about his mistake via Flickr:
“The account above looks real, right? Bill Keller’s name, photo and URL are all correct. Most importantly, his Twitter handle reads: @nytkeller. Well, it turns out this is actually a fake Twitter account. After suspecting something was off with the account — namely that it didn’t have a little blue “verified” symbol next to it and didn’t show an accurate follower count — I discovered that the two “ll”s in the Twitter handle were actually a capital “i” and lowercase “L.” So in Twitter’s app, it looks like a capital “ll” when in reality it spells his name with an “il.” I notified someone at Twitter late last night (see the timestamp of the screenshot) and asked if this was a Twitter bug, or a fake account and they said they would investigate. It turns out, it was the latter.”
This post is developing. Please refresh the page for updates.
Have you checked out your Facebook Insights lately? Did you notice that your ‘Reach’ number was a little out of whack? Did you freak out?
If you didn’t get Facebook’s notice that they changed the way they calculate your reach, then your freak-out is justified. That’s right, Facebook has changed its definition of Reach (thanks, Marketing Pilgrim, for breaking the news to us). This means you should be looking at your Facebook Insights analytics a little bit differently now. Let’s break down what the changes are, and how it affects your Facebook marketing strategy.
These days, companies are hiring people to run their social media presence. If you’re hiring, how do you know whether you’re dealing with a real professional or not? We look at the top red flags to watch out for during the interview.
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
Facebook wrapped up its second week of public trading at a $27.84, down 26.8 percent from its initial offering price of $38.
The all-time high for Facebook stock is $45, and its all-tie low is $26.83 — a huge range given that the company only went public two weeks ago.
This IPO has been a huge disappointment so far for early traders — if not for the company itself. We saw red flags on day one of the offering, when the stock price closed down $4 from where it opened. And to be frank, most Silicon Valley insiders, including professional investors, didn’t see this coming.
The poor performance of Facebook stock has had a negative trickle-down effect on other new tech stocks. In fact, the market for public tech stocks has been so turbulent over the past couple weeks that travel search company Kayak delayed its IPO, even though its roadshow had already been planned for this week.
Here’s a five-day look at tech stocks, as well as general market indicators, to get a sense of how the overall industry is performing:
As you can see, the strongly social companies are taking the largest hits; Yelp and Groupon fared even worse than Facebook. But overall, this wasn’t the rosiest week for anyone, tech or otherwise.
“We’re clearly in a state of euphoria about the potential of social media,” said Michael Pachter, managing director of equity research at Wedbush Securities, in a conversation with VentureBeat. “The bubble is not as large now that Facebook’s has deflated.”
Pachter went on to say that Facebook’s share price decline is definitely and only because of the large number of shares issued: 484 million shares, all told. For contrast, he noted, Google’s IPO put only 20 million shares on the market.
“In other words, the Facebook IPO was over 10 times as large as the Google IPO. It is clear that the public wasn’t ready to absorb this much stock, and the lack of reassurance from Facebook management about how seriously they consider the share price performance hasn’t helped.”
Still, many have given a year-end target of $42 for Facebook stock, and we would caution naysayers that the story of Facebook’s IPO is, in many ways, still just beginning.
Filed under: social
Disruption. If one word exemplifies what’s happening to the world of business today, that’s it. The high-speed pace of technological change, with its ability to disrupt business models and pricing has made disruption an everyday reality. This point came home to me when I heard Ray Kurzweil speak at a Shop.org conference on how the rate of change is doubling every year and what that means for the future. When you see the trajectory of change, and what it means to the not-too-distant future, you can’t help but feel a powerful sense of urgency about keeping pace. The only way to avoid being eliminated from the game in this environment is to disrupt yourself.
Clinging to the status quo is a recipe for extinction. I say this from the perspective of someone who works for a 134-year-old brand. You can never get complacent. You have to constantly reinvent your business.
Just look at the industries that have been disrupted by technology. Publishing. Printing. Retail. Education. Banking. Music. Entertainment. The businesses within these industries that survive have been the disruptors.
But, how do you dare to disrupt your own business? How do you move beyond the status quo? Here are 6 trends that point the way and a reading that can help.
You don’t have to found a tech start-up to be an entrepreneur. You just have to have an entrepreneurial approach to every aspect of your business. Act small. If you find you are unable to have mini-start-ups in your company because your procedures are too cumbersome, your infrastructure too complex, or your hierarchy too structured take note. These are red flags that tell you, you’ve moved outside the realm of being an entrepreneur.
Failure is “in” because it’s a sign that you have taken risks and innovated. The option—the safe route based on best-practices and “the way it’s always been done” is a path to extinction. Failure is the price you pay for being open to new ideas and for taking risks. Learning to take calculated risks and get comfortable with failure is a requirement for entrepreneurial ventures.
Creativity is a key factor in being able to disrupt the status quo. And, creativity isn’t just for “creatives.” There’s no reason why salespeople or shopkeepers should stay in a self-imposed ghetto of mundane thinkers. Several of the books on this list teach how creativity works and how creativity can become a discipline, rather than an unreliable and mystical resource. Taking the kind of leaps that are necessary to keep up with the marketplace means learning to be fearless and embracing creativity.
The Power of Fringe
The safe, middle-of-the-road, something-for-everyone business is not so safe. When businesses were largely local, it only mattered that you stood out from a small number of competitors. When information was scarce, any source of information was valuable. Now standing out is more important. Just check Google for generic terms related to your business if you’re uncomfortable with being different. Learning to be different–meaningfully and significantly different–is more important than ever.
Cumbersome and complex businesses and products are ripe for disruption. Simplicity (or at least solutions that appear simple) reduce the friction that comes between a person and an action or purchase. Simplicity allows for the speed that goes hand-in-hand with disruptive technologies. Businesses like Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Square and Dropbox are examples of businesses that are simple to use and simple to understand.
This trend is a subset of Radical Simplicity. As organizations get bigger, they tend to get more complex and slow down. Speed is one of the requirements of successful disruption and small has the potential to move faster and sell faster in the world of short attention spans. People don’t have the patience to read long pieces of content, even in print. People who are used to paying $1.99 for an app are going to think five times before paying $199 for a downloadable product. While this doesn’t require firing people or cheapening your output, it does mean rethinking your internal processes to be nimble and redefining the size of a piece of content.
The Reading List
Here are a list of books that address these trends. Some of them can fit into more than one category.
- The Lean Start-up: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries
- The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business by Clayton Christenson
- Zen Habits: Handbook for Life by Leo Babauta
- Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works by Ash Maurya
- The Power of Unpopular: A Guide to Building Your Brand for the Audience Who Will Love You (and why no one else matters) by Erika Napoletano
- We Are All Weird by Seth Godin
- Different: Escaping the Competitive Heard by Youngme Moon
- Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer
- Do The Work and the War of Art by Stephen Pressfield
- The Accidental Creative: How to be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice by Todd Henry
- Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon
- Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance by Jonathan Fields
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Many people complain about Facebook’s mobile experience. For the longest time their app was just not very good. Even with the latest improvements the Facebook mobile experience still leaves a bit to be desired.
While it seemed that Facebook was simply focused on building their 900 million user powerhouse and mobile was backburnered as a result, that may not have been the case at all.
CNBC reports that as a result of early investor meetings there has been a change to the filings for Facebook’s IPO which indicates the trouble Facebook has with mobile.
Facebook said growth in the number of users using Facebook on mobile devices, which is hard to monetize, “may negatively affect our revenue and financial results.”
In an amended regulatory filing, the company said the number of people logging into Facebook is continuing to grow more quickly than the number of ads delivered.
Facebook said this is in part because more people are using the social network on mobile devices, where it shows a very small number of ads.
Could Facebook actually be the victim of the world’s move to mobile which is happening so rapidly right before our very eyes? Back in February when the first announcements for Facebook’s mobile ad plan were brought to light, this concern was there. At that time Facebook had admitted that it had failed to monetize the already 425 million mobile users it had and it did not go unoticed
The disclosure sent up red flags for analysts, because the company also said it does not “currently directly generate any meaningful revenue from the use of Facebook mobile products, and our ability to do so successfully is unproven.”
Facebook’s stating this initially was concerning but moving to the new wording that seems wary of rapidly growing numbers of mobile users and its potential to negatively affect revenue and financial results is a big jump. It should also be one that makes us all wonder just what can Facebook possibly do to monetize their mobile presence without frustrating users with too many ads in too small of a place. I’m not an analyst but this sounds pretty bad. Insurmountable? No. Pretty bad? Yes.
Maybe this is why Google has been content with letting Google+ slowly grind away in the background. Google already has the mobile ad thing working with search which is further bolstered by a 95% share in the mobile search game. It doesn’t need Google+ for monetization (although that doesn’t mean they won’t try). Imagine people en masse discovering that Google+ could be the place to connect with people in a mobile environment without being pitched every 2 seconds? Could Facebook’s absolute need to monetize the mobile experience be the reason for people to finally consider Google+ for real?
Far fetched? Maybe but I don’t see this development for Facebook as something that can be easily overcome. Could Facebook have missed this one so badly and painted itself into a corner that it may not be able to get out of?
What are your thoughts and impressions? As Internet marketers what does Facebook become if it cannot deliver in the mobile space?
A year ago, Peter Thiel called it a bubble. Whatever you call it, the cost of attaining a college degree has skyrocketed to the point of absurdity — to the point of one trillion red flags. Student debt in the U.S. recently pushed over $1 trillion, and the average debt per student now stands at more than $25K. (And 30 percent of students are more than 30 days overdue on payments.)
StraighterLine, a Baltimore-based startup, is one of many young companies trying to find a solution to these rising costs, through online education. Founded in 2010, StraigherLine offers a low-cost, subscription-based service that allows students to take a variety of accredited, general ed courses online. And, now, with the goal of bringing its service to a wider audience, the startup has announced that it has raised $10 million in series A funding.
The round of financing was led by New York venture firm FirstMark Capital, with contributions from City Light Capital and existing investor Chrysalis Ventures, among others. The company said that it will use its new capital to accelerate its outreach to colleges, employers, and students, and focus on building a viable, next-gen market for credit-bearing, web-based general ed courses.
With unemployment remaining fairly high and with non-traditional students (older people, single mothers, workers retraining) returning to academia, competition for already-scant resources is growing. Institutions are struggling to carry the load. Yale recently decided to add 250 students to its incoming class, which cost the university a quarter of a billion dollars.
Luckily, as online content distribution media have matured, the quality of online ed is fast-improving as a number of startups, like Khan Academy, 2tor, ShowMe, Udemy, Udacity, Grockit, Lynda.com, and the Minerva Project are all showing how video, mobile devices, games, and advanced web platforms can transform distance learning into low-cost, viable supplement (if not alternative) to on-campus learning.
StraighterLine, too, is focused on bringing price transparency to online education, offering general ed courses that students generally take (and are often required) during their freshman and sophomore years, like Algebra, Biology, Calculus, U.S. History, and English Composition, to name a few — on the Web. If we say the average price for a private institution is about $32K per year, StraigherLine’s pricing compares favorably, with the option to pay $100 a month, plus $39 for each course started, $399 per course, or a full freshman year education for $1K.
Included in this pricing is free live, on-demand instruction, although if students choose to buy a textbook, they have to do so separately. But the cool part is that the startup’s courses are ACE Credit recommended and can be transferred for credit to a number of degree granting institutions. Over 25 grant credit today, with more than 200 universities across the U.S. having accepted post-review.
There aren’t yet many “big name” institutions accepting StraigherLine credits, and obviously it will be important for the startup to expand its list of participating universities if it hopes to reach the tipping point. But the model is certainly an appealing one, as it means that students can participate in a flexible, low-cost education and transfer into institutions that accept its courses for credit, significantly reducing the cost of a four-year degree. A degree that they eventually receive from the universities themselves, not StraighterLine.
It’s also all about quality when it comes to online education, something 2tor has been religiously focused on and is raising big money to take the necessary steps to ensure. StraighterLine, on the other hand, doesn’t have to offer an Ivy League education like that which Minerva is setting out to build, as long as it offers those quality, prerequisite courses that students can knock out on their way to an on-campus degree. In this way, it can provide a great complement to community colleges and equivalent feeder programs into four-year institutions.
The company said that it is working towards building out its platform so that it can begin to offer the kind of robust online education (multimedia, interactive content, live, on-demand instruction, employment resources, etc.) that is now expected of distance learning. It also plans to boost its offerings around placement, career training, and is hustling to engage the employer community so that its educational platform maintains relevance to students’ futures, beyond just being an easy way to knock out first-year requirements.
The founder and CEO of StraighterLine, Burck Smith, has experience building online educational programs, having sold his online tutoring and support services company, SmartThinking to Pearson early last year.
For more on StraighterLine, check ‘em out at home here.
Groupon’s stock has been falling since it revealed on Friday that it was revising its first quarter earnings to reflect a larger than expected loss. With its spotty accounting history, Groupon is now a juicy target for shareholder lawyers, who believe the company may be liable for the losses investors have suffered since Friday. The stock is currently down about 12%.
When it filed to go public with the Securities and Exchange Comission, Groupon’s accounting raised some red flags and the company eventually revised its financials with the SEC before its IPO. Considering all the scrutiny, the news on Friday that it’s auditor, Earnst and Young, said the newfound errors revealed ”material weakness in internal controls” piqued the curiosity of lawyers.
“When you do a registration statement there’s extensive due diligence so you would think this was uncovered at the time,” Jacob Zamansky of the New York-based law firm Zamansky & Associates, which represents investors, told Deal Journal.
Groupon blamed its new losses on higher than expected returns from the holiday season. But our own Rocky Agrawal argues that the company should have seen this coming a mile away.
Well, for starters, it’s not a coupon company nor a marketing company. At its core, Groupon’s U.S. business is a receivables factoring business, as I wrote last year. They give loans to small businesses at a very steep rate (the price of the discount plus Groupon’s commission). They get the money to fund these loans from credit card companies such as Chase Paymentech. Groupon is essentially a sub-prime lender that does zero risk assessment. And as word continues to spread about what a terrible deal running a Groupon is for many categories of businesses, the ones that will choose to run Groupons are the ones that are the most desperate.
Unfortunately for shareholders, their stock, unlike Groupon’s deals, cannot be so easily refunded.
Filed under: deals
The disclosure sent up red flags for analysts, because the company also said it does not “currently directly generate any meaningful revenue from the use of Facebook mobile products, and our ability to do so successfully is unproven.”
Talk about a “glass is half empty” attitude. For me, that looks like a huge opportunity for Facebook and I suspect that the dire warning was nothing more than the obligatory pessimistic statements needed when making any financial statement.
Anyway, it appears Facebook’s ready to give mobile advertising another crack with a major announcement in New York on February 29th.
Of course, the big question is, will mobile Facebook users tolerate ads appearing in their smart phones and tablets. And the answer? Of course they will!
Oh sure, they’ll be some huffing and puffing by many Facebook users. Heck, I’m sure profile pictures will be changed and anti-Facebook Pages will be created, but when all is said and done, we’ll just get used to it and move on. Anyone remember the outrage over Facebook’s Ticker? Heck, I kinda like it now!
One “social-media expert” went as far as to say…
Facebook could end up “irritating their user base by inundating them with ads,” he said.
Since when has that ever stopped Zuckerberg et al? Over 400 million in unmonetized users? I have one word for ya: ka-ching!
This guest post is by Chris The Traffic Blogger.
This past month my fiancé and I went to a wedding expo. No, I am not one of those guys who lets the girl run around and do everything for the wedding! So I was there getting sold on everything from limos to flowers, and watching marketing at its finest (and worst).
Most of the vendors practiced the art of scummy marketing—you know, making mediocre products look worth much more than they actually were. Even though I understood this, I fell for a marketing scam that ended up costing me initially $1600 and quite a few phone calls to my credit card company to get the transaction voided.
However, I’m not upset that I was scammed. The experience actually reinforced several things I have learned over the years about marketing, and I’m going to use the story of what happened to me to reinforce these core concepts with you. But before I get into the lessons I want to share, here’s exactly what happened to us:
We entered a raffle for a free honeymoon. When we were called and told that we were selected to win, my fiancé and I were ecstatic. We were told that we had to listen to a one hour seminar on pots and pans from the company and then we could collect our reward. That should have been red flag #1.
The seminar lasted two hours. Red flag #2. The pots looked amazing, but they cooked twice as long as they were advertised to cook when the saleswoman made chicken for us to try. Red flag #3. A quick internet search for the company in question came up with articles about how it was an expensive scam. That should have been the biggest red flag of them all!
Despite these red flags, my fiancé and I still bought the pots. Why? Because the saleswoman made the decision ours, and a no-brainer. It was only after we made the decision to buy that we found out she was lying to us, on everything from prices to quality of the pots.
So what did the saleswoman do that made us believe every word she said? What made us think that the all expenses paid vacation was really that, even though it would have cost us a couple hundred dollars in taxes and then enough fees to pay for a second vacation? I’ll show you in this post, but please keep in mind that the entire point is to use this marketing knowledge for good. You know: to promote great products and deliver on the promises you make, not rely on legal gimmicks and tricky documentation to confuse your buyers into buying mediocre products.
Every single day that you post on your blog, you are selling your audience on your blog’s value. Use the following information that I saw on display at the marketing seminar to improve the value of your website and your products.
1. Presentation matters
As you probably already know, the average person looks a fraction of a second at your site before deciding if they want to click away. Sometimes, they don’t even read a single word of your headline!
In this blink of an eye, your graphics are the only way to hold their attention. Having a really nice, eye catching graphic is essential to your blog’s success. Personally, I saw around a 30 second increase on the average time people spent on my first blog, once I had an eye catching graphic for the title.
2. Internet readers are a mix of skim and full readers
Some will just read your headlines and sub headlines before deciding if they actually want to read your paragraphs between them. Make an effort to create interesting headlines throughout your article, not just at the top. A mixture of bold and different sizes for your headings will also draw the eye to the information you want readers to focus on. Lists and numbers do this naturally and our brains want to read each and every bullet, especially if there’s an ounce of OCD in us!
The trick is to hit as many sense as possible in your audience. This is difficult to do online, as you are limited to just site and sound, but offline you can go for touch, taste and smell.
3. Relatability is huge!
I related quite a bit to the saleswoman who spoke to us at the seminar. She was from Jersey (I grew up going to the shore quite a bit) and had an awesome accent. She also grew up in a large family, played outside all the time as a child, and ate meals with her family every night. I related to this so much and this drew me into the experience by recalling memories of my past. I really felt like I had a lot in common with the presenter.
I don’t care if you talk about picking your nose as a child, do everything in your post to try to relate to your audience in any way possible.
4. Interesting facts really do make a difference
Saying something like, “X% of internet readers find facts interesting” goes a long way towards making people believe you are researching the information you present. If you actually do the research and come up with cool facts then readers will pay far more attention to your post.
Also, any fact about life that people ignore is going to have the same effect. For example, the lady at the seminar mentioned that ground meat in the supermarket appears to bleed red, but that’s dye because ground meat can’t bleed! In that moment, I actually admired the intelligence of the statement because I had never thought of that before. Do this to your audience as often as possible, as it greatly improves your credibility and will lock people into reading your entire article.
5. Laughter works
No matter how dry a personality you have, always attempt to incorporate humor into your posts. I don’t care if you have to steal cheesy lines from standup comedians, do as much as you can to make your audience laugh. It helps to hold their attention and keep them locked in throughout the experience of reading your blog.
What’s more, if your headline is funny, then people will pass your post around simply because of the headline! That will greatly improve the chances of someone new being exposed to your work.
6. Price points make decisions easier
In fact, having price points naturally makes people consider the consequences of buying, or rather, not buying your product. Here’s the strategy that the saleswoman used to sell her pots and pans to us.
- Step #1: Pick a really expensive product that does work for what the audience needs.
- Step #2: Explain why this product is way too expensive and unnecessary.
- Step #3: Pick a really inexpensive product that is of low quality and can’t get the job done.
- Step #4: Explain why this product is subpar for the job and will break, eventually costing you the same over time in repairs or repurchases as the expensive product.
- Step #5: Show your product that is right between the two other price points.
- Step #6: Explain why your product is perfect for the job and just the right price.
7. Selling is about never actually selling
By picking the right price points and products to showcase those price points, you create a decision for your audience. When done correctly, this decision is obvious and a no-brainer. Just as it was for us, buying pots for twice the price (or so we thought, it ended up being over four times) of a regular set of pots and getting a lifetime warranty on them seemed like a great deal. It made no sense for us as a young couple to pass up this opportunity!
You can create the same simple decisions for your audience and if you have a product to sell, I highly recommend that you make comparisons to cheaper/worse products and more expensive/equally useful ones. That way you can say that your product is of higher quality yet cheaper than what you would pay anywhere else for that same quality. If you do this, then your audience will not feel sold to; instead, they will feel like they are making a conscious choice.
8. Time limits create hype
By the end of the seminar we were on the fence about the pots, but being told that we only had ten minutes to decide if we wanted them made us buy them. Why? Because we had just been sold on the value of these pots for two hours, the presentation was wonderfully entertaining, and the price points made the decision a no brainer! Of course we bought them, and almost everyone else there did as well.
You can create hype with your blog, even if the purpose isn’t to make money. One great way to do this is to offer a special report by the next day that requires a subscription to your list to see it. In 24 hours I have increased my normal subscription growth by 50% doing this.
Each of these eight lessons rely on the previous one to work. As a blogger, these kinds of ideas create a template for your posts. If you start off with the first point and work your way down, you can create an awesome post that sells the audience by convincing them to make a decision. Most people want to skip all the way down to the deal, without taking the time to build a relationship with their audience. This could take months, weeks, days or even hours, but it rarely happens in a few minutes.
As an internet marketer and blogger, understand that people need to trust you before they will believe in your products and services. Even if you just want to get more subscribers, you need to first convince them that you are valuable. It’s no different than getting them to open their wallet!
If you have the opportunity, go to one of these scams and see how the salespeople target your emotions, sense and reason… just don’t bring your wallet!
Chris “The Traffic Blogger” writes to help bloggers learn how to drive traffic, build relationships and earn revenue through blogging. His most recent efforts have been on teaching others What to Tweet to get more followers and make money on Twitter.
Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger